Explore the bushland, eat and drink Australian produce and discover local history in this hidden, leafy gem.
If you want to escape the urban landscape in favour of bushland, freshwater streams and old-fashioned country hospitality, head to Warrandyte. The suburb’s river and undulating hills were once infused with gold, with the first nugget uncovered in 1851 by local publican Louis Michel. It was an epic discovery that would see the beginning of the Victorian gold rush and you’ll find vestiges of this golden era, as well as the area’s colonial heritage, in the Victorian structures dotted along the main street.
A walk along the river reserve on the self-guided Built on Gold Walking Tour is an excellent way to familiarise yourself with the area and learn its fascinating history. Once you’re at the trail’s end, make your way to the secluded Pound Bend Reserve. It’s the perfect spot for a picnic, a swim or to simply sit and enjoy being surrounded by nature. From here, there’s a walking track that runs upstream towards the Pound Bend Tunnel, which was dug out to divert the Yarra River during the gold rush. Remember to look up, as you might spot koalas snoozing in the trees. Another path worth wandering is Wurundjeri Stories, an Aboriginal interpretive signage trail that offers detailed accounts of the history, culture and spirituality of the area through artwork and photographs.
Afterwards, a hearty meal and cold beer can be found at the Grand Hotel Pub. There’s a bistro, a wine bar and public bar serving up wholesome pub food, plus a kids’ menu and outdoor play area. For a little more sophistication Olivigna, a winery, olive grove and restaurant, has an alfresco piazza where you can enjoy antipasto platters, pizzas and Italian desserts overlooking the manicured gardens.
If you’re looking for cafes in Warrandyte, you’ll be spoiled for choice. Nestled on the suburb’s fringes is Beasley’s Nursery. Stop by for coffee or a light meal among an array of exotic native flora. For something closer to the centre of town, but still serving up breakfast and lunch in a verdant environment, try the cafe at Warran Glen Garden Centre. For Australian cuisine with a contemporary twist there’s Altair, where fun breakfast dishes like green eggs and ham and ricotta and wild blackberry pancakes sit comfortably alongside smoked barramundi and rabbit roulade on the menu, with dining open into the evening. Then there’s Nardee, bringing traditional Indian fare to the suburbs with riverside views.
Looking for a fun holiday activity for the kids? Head to Tandivale Equestrian Centre & Pony Club, one of the longest running equestrian schools in Melbourne, where kids can spend the day learning how to groom, saddle and ride their own pony or horse around the seven-hectare property.
When it comes to shopping in Warrandyte, you can’t leave without visiting Ratty & Moles Antiques. You’ll discover an eclectic assortment of Australian pottery, jewellery, lace, sets of fine bone china, small furniture items and many other marvellous treasures and collectables. Once you’re laden down with new trinkets, pop in to Hops and Vine. A champion of local producers, it offers an incredible selection of wine, beer and spirits, as well as complimentary tastings on Friday nights and all day Saturday to help you choose.